Court dismisses suit seeking to stop investigation of Synagogue Church tragedy

Posted by News Express | 18 November 2014 | 3,427 times

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Attempt to halt the Lagos State Coroner Inquest probing into circumstances surrounding the collapsed guest house in the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun, Lagos, yesterday hit the rock, as Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, dismissed it for being incompetent.

Delivering judgment in the suit instituted by a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje on October 28, 2014, Justice Buba held that the lawyer, who was praying the court to make an order restraining further hearing into the inquest, completely misconceived the role of government agencies.

According to the judge, the fact that the founder of the church, Prophet T.B. Joshua, was indicted, does not suggest that the Coroner had already made up his mind.

He further held that if, for instance, a prosecution strongly believed that a person was guilty and brought a charge against him, it did not mean the judge must make a conviction or that the accused would not get a fair hearing.

The court also held that aside the fact that the Coroner’s court was not a court of law, but a fact-finding entity, Prophet Joshua and his church were not complaining.

“Supposing they are satisfied with what was said or alleged, then what is the right of this applicant that is being infringed upon that the court can proceed to protect?” the judge asked.

He observed that Ogungbeje, the litigant, did not show any threat or injury he would suffer with the inquest, nor did he disclose a legal or justiciable right to protect.

According to the judge, “A trial court will only have jurisdiction to enforce the fundamental rights of an applicant guaranteed under Chapter 4 of the Constitution, if the main reliefs involve a breach of the fundamental rights of the applicant.

“The Coroner was set up by the state’s executive, and that by the principles of separation of powers, the court would not ordinarily interfere with the workings of another arm of government.

“After a calm consideration of all the issues and arguments, the applicant has failed to make a case for the enforcement of fundamental rights.

“The case lacks merit, same be and is hereby dismissed.”

Justice Buba further maintained that an order of interim injunction was not necessary in the circumstance on the reason that the applicant was not personally affected by the inquest.

According to the judge, “Although, Okedinachi wants an order of interim injunction restraining T.B. Joshua from appearing before the coroner, I must say that he is not a party to the suit, neither is he held in detention.

“The respondents were served with the court processes on Friday, and by the rules, they have five days to respond, but time was abridged and they accepted, and so, let us not lose sight of the issue here.

“If Ogungbeje was the party summoned before the coroner, then the issue of a restraining order will arise, but in this situation, how can I restrain the whole world?

“The applicant has not shown that he will suffer any danger if the restraining order is not granted, and so, I will hear this case on its merit on Thursday, November 6, and I will not grant any restraining orders; this is the ruling of this court.”

Specifically, Ogungbeje had argued that the composition of the Coroner inquest was a negation of the principle of natural justice and Section 36 of the Constitution, and as such it was unconstitutional, null and void.

•Text courtesy of Newswatch Times. Photo shows the collapsed Synagogue Church. Inset is Prophet TB Joshua.

Source: News Express

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